Category Archives: Why Chile?

Santiago, Startup Capitol/al

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Over the last five years living in Santiago, I’ve noticed that Chile has quite the entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneur dot com just published this enlightening infographic on the hottest startup cities worldwide based on research done by Stanford and Berkeley. Santiago just made it on the list coming in at 20; interestingly with twice as many business-ladies than Silicon Valley getting in on the action.¬† Original article here.

 

Residency in Chile

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After a student visa, a contract visa, a professional visa and nearly four years in Chile, I have just gotten notice of my new permanent residency status! Why is this exciting? Life just gets easier. It doesn’t mean I can stay here forever necessarily, but for five years I can do anything any other Chilean does without having to jump through any special hoops. Bank account – no problem. I can use my new ID card to travel within South America without paying the US citizen entry tax. This reciprocal tax is usually equivalent to what we in the States charge others to enter. Maybe on the face of it, this seems fair, but in reality it is said that the money just lines the pockets of whoever is working that day at the airport. For budget travelers, this can add up to a lot of dough.

For anyone considering coming to Chile, it’s easy to arrive and simply obtain a tourist visa that lasts for 90 days at the airport and is renewable for another 90 days. The entry fee for those coming from the US is about 131$, which is the same price as a student visa. If you in fact obtain a student visa before arriving, and have already paid your visa fee, this will cover you at the airport. If you arrive on a tourist visa and decide you’d like to stay and work, there are many jobs for English speakers who know grammar, how to teach and hold either a language related Bachelor’s degree or a TEFL [Teaching English as a Foreign Language] certificate. The English institute or University or whatever institution that may offer you a job opening in your field would give you a contract. With this you could apply and easily acquire a visa sujeto a contrato, or a ‘contract visa’. These visas last for one year and are renewable. After two years on a contract visa at the same job, you can apply for residency.

Overall, for English teachers this is not a difficult process, and your Spanish skills need not be advanced. Be aware though that if you don’t speak the language, it will be easier to take advantage of you. One place jumps to mind. They advertise that they will offer you a contract before you step foot in Chile, and prefer that you do not speak Spanish. It is run by a man who left the US over 30 years ago and has never returned. That sounds a little suspicious to me. If you have questions on institutions, I have worked for a handful and most of my friends have experience with the rest. I could give you tips if you’re interested or let you know what is fair pay for this kind of work.

I chose to nix my contract early on because I like the ability to fire a client when need be. I switched from a contract to professional, which means I can send out boletas, or monthly invoices to each client – be it a student, translation, University, interpretation or whatever, and the 10% tax comes directly out (you get this money back if you’re not going to stay here, and Chile and the US have an accord that any money earned while in Chile is exempt from taxation up to $85,000 US per year). In order to have this type of visa one has to bring their university diploma that has been ‘legalized’ by the issuing secretary of state and then legalized again once in Chile. After one year of this visa you can apply for residency.

The other visa types are linked to having family here – not me – or having a whole bunch of money – definitely not me – so I can’t give any information there.

¬°Vivan las fronteras! Just kidding.

Chile Wants Your Biz-nass!

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And by that, I mean the government wants to make it super easy for new businesses to get their start inside of Chile. From their own website:

“Start-Up Chile is a program created by the Chilean Government, executed by Corfo via InnovaChile, that seeks to attract early stage, high-potential entrepreneurs to bootstrap their startups in Chile, using it as a platform to go global. The end goal of the accelerator program is to convert Chile into the definitive innovation and entrepreneurial hub of Latin America; this is a mission shared by the Government of Chile and is a primary focus of the Ministry of Economy.”

It goes on to tell the history of the concept over the last few years, government agencies that support the project and there is information on all of the project’s that have been accepted and brought to fruition. I myself haven’t applied, but I have several friends who have, and the seed money was not hard to come by [with a decent proposal / concept, of course]. The site is in English and Spanish, although the proposals are only accepted in English.

Here is a link to their summary on the ease of doing business here, although I have to say I saw some recent Tweets about a new law making it possible to incorporate for free and within one day. That’s nuts. I have to find the details on that…